September 2020
Webb Analytics Report
What's happening and what matters in construction supply, from Webb Analytics President Craig Webb.
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Here's Your Next Big To-Do Item:
Review Your Policies About Politicking
Never let it be said that LBM people lack political opinions, and this fall is likely to be the high season for partisan passions. That's why owners and employees would be well-served to remind themselves of the rules on politicking in the workplace. If your operation doesn't have rules, it's a great time to write some. Here's advice on what to do.
Coming Thursday: 3 Experts and I Help You Decide When to Cut Your Lumber Buys This Fall
It's always a peril for dealers to align reductions in commodity purchases with what they expect will be the usual winter slowdown in construction activity. But this year is extra scary for two reasons: Lumber prices are sky-high and demand for both new homes and decks are unusually strong. How do you meet demand but not get stuck all winter with unsold units of expensive lumber? We can help. Join me at 1 p.m. ET Thursday for a webinar in which three experts--Paul Jannke of Forest Economic Advisors, Matt Layman of Layman's Lumber Guide, and Grant Farnsworth of The Farnsworth Group--give fresh demand forecasts and pass along expert buying advice for unprecedented times. It's free and sponsored by Epicor. Register here
52 People, 48 Firms: The Latest LBM Hires
Our latest roundup of notable job changes in LBM features new general managers at Ring's End, Lang Building Supply, and Massey Builders Supply, a new district manager for L&W Supply (Regi Shelley, shown here), and oddly enough, new chief accounting officers at both GMS and Beacon. Other notables include a new COO at Palmer-Donavin and a new executive director at SBCA, the trade association for structural building components. And then there's ProBuild's former CEO, Robert Marchbank, who has become an advisor for private equity at Nautic Partners. Check 'em out
SRS, Kodiak, and US LBM Keep Busy Doing Deals
Webb Analytics' counts show that, so far in 2020, we've had 132 LBM locations involved in acquisitions, 39 greenfield openings, and 22 closures. That's about one-third less than at this point in 2019. Those numbers exclude the BFS-BMC deal, which won't close 'til year end. More
COVID Hasn't Ended Your Drug Abuse Challenges. But it Might Have Altered Them
Are Americans smoking more pot because of the coronavirus? Yes, according to results of an 11-nation report on drug use reported by The Economist on Sept. 11. The Global Drug Survey asked 55,000 people how drug habits had changed since the pandemic began. In America, use of cannabis shot up 46%, a growth rate that trailed only Australia on the leader board. Meanwhile, use of party drugs like Ecstasy declined; cocaine, too. More
Also Worth Reading ...
Next Up in the BFS-BMC Merger: The Proxy. Meanwhile, Here's My Analysis of the Deal
Given their status as publicly traded companies, we already know more about the operations of Builders FirstSource (BFS) and BMC than many of their LBM peers. We could learn even more this month, as BFS and BMC prepare a proxy statement for the merger that would create the biggest full-service lumberyard in America. The resulting $11.2bln behemoth will employ 26,000 employees in 550 locations across 42 states from Florida to Alaska.

Will this deal be "transformational," the word BFS and BMC executives used to describe this deal? What threats and opportunities does this merger pose to the new company's competitors? Its vendors? Its current employees? While we wait for the proxy, here are my initial conclusions.
BFS (red pins) and BMC (blue) facilities in continental U.S. Source: Webb Analytics
Which Business Book Is Inspiring You Now?
Operating in crazy times demands that you get as much smart advice as you can find. Odds are that, for many of you, the advice comes in the form of a business book. So tell me: What books are you reading now? Which books in recent years are proving most helpful today? Which would you recommend a colleague read over the holidays? I'll collect and report your recommendations next month.
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If you want to run a better LBM company, Webb Analytics can help.

Webb Analytics was created by Craig Webb, who for 12 years served as editor-in-chief of ProSales, the nation's most-honored publication for construction supply executives. Webb Analytics alerts dealers to trends, threats, and opportunities from around the globe to help LBM insiders and investors make better decisions. He does it through personal (and online) visits, custom research, data, strategic consulting, speeches, roundtables, board work, and business development services.

Prior to joining ProSales, Webb worked as an editor and reporter at The Wall Street Journal in Brussels and New York. He served as chief economics reporter for United Press International, covered Congress and the White House for McGraw-Hill, was trade editor at the Journal of Commerce, and worked for other organizations in newsrooms from Indiana to Italy.

Contact him at or by phone at 202.374.2068.

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